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Exclusive: Matt Quinlan talks about 'Survivor: One World' (Part 2)


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/02/2012 

Matt Quinlan was voted out of his all-male Manono tribe at the third Tribal Council session of Survivor: One World during Wednesday night's third episode of the CBS reality series' 24th edition.

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On Thursday, Matt, a 33-year-old attorney from San Francisco, CA, talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: One World experience and his early elimination from the game -- including whether he agrees he was a bit cocky and arrogant while playing the game and if that behavior was consistent with his personality in real life, who knew about Colton Cumbie's hidden Immunity Idol and when they found out, how vital the Manono tribe's tarp was to their warmth and dryness, and what his explanation was for calling his alliance "roosters" while Colton and his allies were the "average joes."

Below is the second portion of our exclusive interview with Matt. Click here to read the first half. 

Reality TV World: Separating the game from real life is an issue that comes up a lot in the game Survivor. One of the criticisms some viewers have had is that you came across as cocky and arrogant during your time on the show -- and last night's scene with Troy "Troyzan" Robertson where you boasted that you were a "rooster" and not an "average joe" like the guys in Colton's alliance was one of the examples people have been citing to support that. What's your response to that -- do you think you were cocky and arrogant while you were out there, and if so, is that your normal personality or do you feel the game just got to you?

Matt Quinlan: Yeah, I do think I came across a little bit more brash and kind of cocky than I would have liked. The camera time that I had seemed to always catch me in a time when I was either upset or agitated or desperate or something that brought out a kind of more negative side to me, but you know, that's just the game, you know what I mean?

I know that I'm not a jerk in real life and the reaction to me was certainly polarizing -- people either loved me or hated me... you know what I mean? So, I feel, you know, that was just me and that's what the game got out of me. I was always honest with kind of my experience out there. I didn't paint it in a way. I didn't say, "Well people are going to see this, so I'm going to say this."

I really was honest just through the game and that pressure cooker that I was in and the moments that you saw, I mean, that was really how I was feeling. Some of the rooster stuff and the bravado, it was really "locker room-y." It was. That stuff, I was using to try to create power. And that rah-rah locker room nonsense, you know, can be affected.

I normally wouldn't put that conversation out for public viewing, but when I am in a private place with people that I was trying to manipulate to some extent -- to rally them around this, "Hey man! Me and you, we gotta work together. We're the roosters" -- that can't be affected. So I also understand how that can offend some people in the real world.

Reality TV World: So just clarify what you said earlier, it sounds like you knew that Colton had the hidden Immunity Idol well before he announced it at Tribal Council?

Matt Quinlan: Oh yeah. Also -- I knew Colton -- I watched [Sabrina Thompson] hand Colton that idol. I knew that Colton had the idol on Day 3. Everything changed once Colton got that idol.

Reality TV World: So everybody knew all along from Day 3 [on], basically?

Matt Quinlan: We all -- he showed it to all of us afterwards. Our whole tribe knew Colton had the idol well in advance. I mean, that was all part of the game that was going on -- [Day] 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 -- when I was there. Colton had the idol and he wasn't hiding that thing.

Reality TV World: Were you surprised Colton said he was going to play the idol and then didn't, and do you think that was a dangerous move and will result in the other men deciding they can't trust him?

Matt Quinlan: I knew with 100% percent certainty Colton wasn't going to play that idol and I told everybody that, and that's why I wanted to vote Colton out. I was like, "He will go home with his idol tonight." He was way too "in your face" about how he wasn't going home with it and how he was going to play it, and I wasn't buying it for a minute.

I knew Colton was not going to play that idol and that was one of the reasons why I wanted to vote him out. I wanted to get rid of Colton, who was the monkey wrench in our tribe, and I wanted to flush that idol. I thought we could have done both things last night, but unfortunately, the guys were preoccupied by trying to get rid of me. And so, I wasn't surprised at all -- not at all.

Reality TV World: We hadn't seen the men look for their hidden immunity idol. Did you guys look and just not find it while you were out there, or did you guys just not spend much time looking?

Matt Quinlan: Our idol was out, you know what I mean? It was obvious. Sabrina found our idol.

Reality TV World: Well, the girls' idol then -- the corresponding one for the girls.

Matt Quinlan: I think obviously there was some searching around for the idol, but once our idol was out, I don't even know if finding the Salani idol was necessarily anything anybody wanted to do. It put you in quite a spot when you have to give it away and everybody knows it. It just puts a target on your back.

And I think the valuable tool, at least that each one of us Manono members were concerned, was our idol. Not the other idol and trying to give it away and curry up some good will. So, that was not -- at least I can speak for myself -- that was not one of my priorities.

Reality TV World: How big of a blow was it when your men's tribe didn't win the fishing supplies and the canoe? Like given the nutritional boost that could generate, do you think that had the potential to impact both tribe's performances in the rest of the season's tribal challenges? Did you ever strike a deal with them to be able to borrow that stuff?

Matt Quinlan: Well we had some limited gear out there. I think you've seen some of it on the show. The fishing stuff from the Reward Challenge was important. [But] it's not like catching fish though is an easy thing to do, you know? With that Hawaiian sling [fishing spear], it wasn't like somebody was giving us a pass to The Olive Garden, (laughs) you know what I mean?

It wasn't like guaranteed that food was going to come. It was a tool that was useful, or could be useful, but it wasn't something that was so obviously beneficial like the tarp, for example.

Reality TV World: Colton really seemed to want [Bill Posley] gone pretty strongly and kept insisting how annoying he was, even though viewers didn't seem to see a lot of that. Was Bill really that annoying, or do you think Colton wanted him gone for some other reason and that was just his excuse?

Matt Quinlan: Yeah, that could have been. I mean, I don't know. I don't know what Colton's mentality was on that. I didn't find Bill to be annoying. Bill is a fun-loving, kind of loud, center of attention-type guy. He's really funny and he's the center of attention. So that's what he was and I don't think Colton liked that.

Colton, once he got that idol, Colton just turned into a diva out there -- like a power diva as opposed to a "feel sorry for me" diva  -- and so, I think he just wanted all the control and didn't like that Bill's up in everybody's face having fun. That's just my read on it.

Reality TV World: What were your impressions about the women?  Were there any women in particular that impressed or didn't impress you?

Matt Quinlan: I didn't really get the chance to make really meaningful bonds with the women just given how long I was there and given the way we were set up. But I did interact with each and every one of them -- probably multiple times -- and I thought they were all pretty cool you know?

They were suffering out there so it was easy to be sympathetic and friendly and we were. So, they all made a nice impression on us to be honest. There wasn't any one of them that I had any bad feelings for.

Reality TV World: One of the possibilities Jeff said he thought the "living on the same beach" twist might result in was castaways beginning to form cross-tribal alliances well before the tribal merge. Other than Colton, it doesn't sound like you had that initiative personally, but did you ever see any other signs that was happening while you were out there?

Matt Quinlan: Yeah, I mean, that was going on and I was engaged in some of that myself. There was certainly that option available to everybody and I think everybody would have been making a mistake not to at least shake that tree and see what was over there. I think probably everybody did it in different ways.

Reality TV World: Do you think maybe that's where, I think you said earlier, some of Leif Manson's sympathy [for the women] was coming from? 

Matt Quinlan: No, I mean, I just think Leif is just a kind-hearted guy and I think as easy as it was for me to put on my game face and leave some of my real-life mentalities aside, it was hard for Leif.

[Survivor] being just a game was something he understood and could hear, but he couldn't feel that in the moment, you know what I mean? So, I think that it was just a genuine reaction to people that were struggling out there that had Leif motivated. And I think that's cool.

Reality TV World: How big a difference did the men having a tarp make in your tribe's ability to stay dry compared to the women -- was it really as big a difference as the women seemed to think?

Matt Quinlan: That tarp was huge and shortly after we won that tarp, the storm came, so the tarp was every bit important, if not more so, than it seemed to be to either the girls or to the viewers or whatever. That tarp allowed us to sleep at night.

Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor, how did you get on the show?

Matt Quinlan: I applied to be on the show and it worked out.

Reality TV World: Was it your first time applying?

Matt Quinlan: Yeah, it was my first time applying, so.

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